Published on November 29, 2007
Common Literary Forms and Genres : Common Literary Forms and Genres Advanced Placement Literature and Composition at EIE ALLEGORY : ALLEGORY Narrative in which literal meaning corresponds clearly and directly to symbolic meaning. EX: The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan The literal journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City is an allegory for the spiritual journey from sin to holiness. ANECDOTE : ANECDOTE The brief narration of a single event or incident Ex: Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales' APHORISM: APHORISM A concise expression of insight or wisdom. 'The vanity of others offends our taste only when it offends our vanity' AUTOBIOGRAPHY: AUTOBIOGRAPHY The non-fictional story of a person’s life, told by that person. St. Augustine’s Confessions is an early, canonical work in this genre. BALLAD: BALLAD Traditionally, a folk song telling a story or legend in simple language, often with a refrain. A number of poets outside the folk tradition have adopted the ballad form, as Samuel Taylor Coleridge did in 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.' R I M E: an old form of the word Rhyme The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner It is an ancient Mariner, And he stoppeth one of three. 'By thy long grey beard and glittering eye, Now wherefore stopp'st thou me? 'The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide, And I am next of kin; The guests are met, the feast is set: May'st hear the merry din.' BIOGRAPHY: BIOGRAPHY The nonfictional story of a person’s life. Princess Diana Helen Keller Anne Frank Abraham Lincoln BLACK COMEDY: BLACK COMEDY Disturbing or absurd material presented in a humorous manner, usually with the intention to confront uncomfortable truths. EX: Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 War type novel BURLESQUE: BURLESQUE A humorous imitation of a serious work of literature. The humor often arises from the incongruity between the imitation and the work being imitated. Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock Uses the high diction of an epic poem to talk about a domestic matter. CONFESSIONAL POETRY: CONFESSIONAL POETRY An autobiographical poetic genre in which the poet discusses intensely personal subject matter with unusual frankness. Most of the confessional poetry I have seen is very twisted and dark. DIDACTIC LITERATURE: DIDACTIC LITERATURE Literature intended to instruct or educate. Virgil’s Georgics contains farming advice in verse forms Virgil’s Georgianics: Virgil’s Georgianics I have observed that seeds stored away for a long time, however thoroughly they are looked after still deteriorate, unless the greatest possible human effort is used in selecting the best individually by hand each year. In the same way all things go to the bad, lose their power and slip backwards - it is nature's law. It's exactly like when a sculler is trying his utmost to propel his boat up a river with his oars. If he happens to relax his arms for a moment, the current sweeps him away headlong downstream. Virgil, Georgics I, lines 197 - 204 : Virgil, Georgics I, lines 197 - 204 vidi lecta diu et multo spectata labore degenerare tamen, ni vis humana quotannis maxima quaeque manu legeret. sic omnia fatis in peius ruere ac retro sublapsa referri, non aliter quam qui adverso vix flumine lembum remigiis subigit, si bracchia forte remisit, atque illum in praeceps prono rapit alveus amni. DIRGE: DIRGE A short poetic expression of grief. Often is embedded in a larger work Is less highly structured, and is meant to be sung. Shakespeare’s The Tempest Ariel’s song 'Full fathom five thy father lies' DRAMA: DRAMA A composition that is meant to be performed. The term often is used interchangeably with ‘play’. ‘Drama’ is a broader term that includes some forms that may not strictly be defined as plays, such as radio broadcasts, comedy sketches, and opera. DRAMATIC MONOLOGUE: DRAMATIC MONOLOGUE A poem that contains words that a fictional or historical character speaks to a particular audience. 'Ulysses' by Alfred Lord Tennyson The whole poem is a dramatic monologue Ulysses by Lord Alfred Tennyson: Ulysses by Lord Alfred Tennyson It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me. I cannot rest from travel; I will drink Life to the lees. All times I have enjoy'd Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades Vext the dim sea. I am become a name; Slide19: For always roaming with a hungry heart Much have I seen and known,-- cities of men And manners, climates, councils, governments, Myself not least, but honor'd of them all,-- And drunk delight of battle with my peers, Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy. I am a part of all that I have met; Yet all experience is an arch wherethro' Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades For ever and for ever when I move. Slide20: How dull it is to pause, to make an end, To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use! As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life Were all too little, and of one to me Little remains; but every hour is saved From that eternal silence, something more, A bringer of new things; and vile it were For some three suns to store and hoard myself, And this gray spirit yearning in desire To follow knowledge like a sinking star, Beyond the utmost bound of human thought. Slide21: This is my son, mine own Telemachus, to whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,-- Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill This labor, by slow prudence to make mild A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees Subdue them to the useful and the good. Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere Of common duties, decent not to fail In offices of tenderness, and pay Meet adoration to my household gods, When I am gone. He works his work, I mine. Slide22: There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail; There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners, Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me,-- That ever with a frolic welcome took The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed Free hearts, free foreheads,-- you and I are old; Old age hath yet his honor and his toil. Death closes all; but something ere the end, Some work of noble note, may yet be done, Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods. The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks; The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends. 'T is not too late to seek a newer world. Slide23: Push off, and sitting well in order smite The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths Of all the western stars, until I die. It may be that the gulfs will wash us down; It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, And see the great Achilles, whom we knew. Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho' We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,-- One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. DYSTOPIC LITERATURE: DYSTOPIC LITERATURE A genre of fiction that presents an imagined future society that purports to be perfect and utopian but that the author presents to the reader as horrifyingly inhuman. Usually the author intends to warn contemporary readers that their own society resembles… We have seen many sci-fi stories of this nature. Eclogue: Eclogue A short pastoral poem in the form of a soliloquy or dialogue between two shepherds. Ex: Virgil’s Eclogues Elegy: Elegy A formal poem that laments death of friend of public figure A meditation on death Epic : Epic A lengthy narrative that describes the deeds of a heroic figure Often culturally or nationally significant The Odyssey is an Epic Poem. Epigram: Epigram A succinct, witty statement, often in verse Ex: William Woodwarth observed, 'the child is the father of the man.' Essay: Essay A form of nonfictional discussion or argument that Michel de Montaigne pioneered in the 1500’s. Flexible in form Usually short Sometimes long: Locke and Pope Fable: Fable Short prose or verse narrative Often illustrates a moral that is stated explicitly at the end. The characters in a fable are often animals with human traits. Fiction: Fiction Invented narrative Doesn’t report true events (at least not entirely) Legend: Legend A story about a heroic figure Derived from oral tradition Based partly on fact and partly on fiction Legend and myth are often used interchangeably Myths: primarily supernatural (Superman) legends: rooted in truth (Robin Hood) Lyric: Lyric A short poetic composition that describes the thoughts of a single speaker Most modern poetry is lyrical Types: Ode Sonnet Memoir: Memoir An autobiographical work Not so much about the author’s life as it is about his or her involvement in history, and his or her character. Ex: Winston Churchill’s Memoirs of the Second World War Metafiction: Metafiction Concerning the nature of fiction Reinterprets a fictional work Draws attention the status of a fictional work Ex: Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, portrays characters connected to Virginia Woolf’s characters. Myth: Myth Story about the origins of a culture’s beliefs and practices or of supernatural phenomena Usually derived from oral tradition Set in an imagined supernatural past Noir: Noir Fiction genre Protagonist is cynical, disillusioned, and a loner Nonfiction : Nonfiction Narrative work that reports events Novel: Novel Fictional prose narrative of significant length. Today it describes all kinds of books, not just fiction Types of Novels: Autobiographical novel- tells a non-fiction story about someone in the novel format Bildungsroman- German for formation novel about a child or adolescent’s development or quest for identity Epistolary Novel- letters exchanged by characters in the story. Slide40: Historical novel- set in an earlier historical period where plot is shaped by historical happenings. Novel of Ideas- platform for discussing ideas character and plot are secondary Novel of Manners- focuses on social customs of a certain class or people usually uses much irony (Austin) Slide41: Picaresque Novel- originally a realistic novel detailing a scoundrel’s exploits now it has come to signify a novel that is loosely structured, episodic, and revolves around a central character Social Protest Novel- author’s aim is to tell a story that illuminates and draws attention to contemporary social problems goal to incite change for the better Verse Novel- Full-length fictional work that is novelistic in nature Written in verse rather than prose Novella: Novella A work of fiction of middle length, often divided in to a few short chapters Ex: Daisy Miller by Henry Jame’s Ode: Ode A serious lyric poem Usually long Very structured metrically EX: William Wordsworth: 'Ode: Imitations of immortality.' Parable: Parable A short narrative that illustrates a moral by means of allegory Parody: Parody A humorous and sometimes satirical imitation of the style or particular work of another author. Pastiche: Pastiche A work that imitates the style of a previous author, work, or literary genre. Not used as a form of mockery Pastoral: Pastoral A celebration of the simple, rustic life of shepherds and shepherdesses, Usually written by a sophisticated urban writer Play: Play Story meant to be performed in a theater before and audience. Usually written in dialogue form and are divided into acts. Many include stage directions and set and costume suggestions. Types of Plays: Comedy- lighthearted Characterized by humor and happy endings Slide49: Epic theater- Bertolt Brecht’s Marxist approach to theater Rejects emotional and psychological engagement in favor of critical detachment. Farce- High-energy comedy that plays on confusions and deceptions between characters and features a convoluted and fast-paced plot. Buffoonery, slapstick, and stock character to provoked laughter EX: Moliere’s Tartuffe Slide50: Miracle Play- Middle Ages Saints or miraculous appearances by the Virgin Mary Morality play- 15th or 16th century Presents an allegory of the Christian quest for salvation Mystery play- Short, based on biblical story Middle ages Presented in cycles at different locations Slide51: Noh drama- Ritualized form of Japanese dramas evolved in the 1300’s involving masks and slow, stylized movement Problem Play- Confronts a contemporary social problem with the intent of changing public opinion on the matter Tragedy- Serious play that end unhappily for the protagonist EX: Sophocles, Antigone Slide52: Tragicomedy- Mixes elements of tragedy and comedy One-Act Play Consists of a single act No intermission Usually brief Primitivist Literature: Primitivist Literature Express a preference for the natural over the artificial in human culture Life of primitive cultures is preferable to modern lifestyles Nostalgic for lost innocense of a natural, childlike past Propaganda: Propaganda Didactic literature that aims to influence the reader on specific social or political issue Prose: Prose Any composition not written in verse The basic unit of prose is the sentence. The sentence distinguishes prose from poetry because poetry is generally written in free verse. Prose Poem: Prose Poem A poetic work that feature the strong rhythms of fee verse but is presented on the page in the form of prose, without line breaks. Romance: Romance Nonrealistic story In verse or prose Features idealized characters, improbable adventures, and exotic settings. Ex: Chivalric Romance- Describes the adventures of a medieval knight and celebrates their strict code of honor, loyalty, and respectful devotion to women. Satire: Satire Exposes to ridicule the shortcomings of individuals, institutions, or society Often makes a political points. Science Fiction: Science Fiction Set in an alternative reality Technological advanced future Fantastical elements Short Story: Short Story Prose fiction that is much shorter than a novel Focused more tightly on a single events Short-short story: Short-short story A particularly compressed an truncated short story rarely longer that 1,000 words Soliloquy: Soliloquy A speech, often in verse A lone character makes the speech Common in drama EX: 'To be or not to be…'